Thursday, December 17, 2009

Favorite Passages: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

So I totally dropped the ball yesterday and forgot to wish Jane Austen a very happy birthday. I can't believe I missed the opportunity to remember such an important and beloved writer. Luckily, my Austen-obsessed friend picked up my slack in her own blog. Anyway, as a form of penance, today's Favorite Passage concerns itself with the lovely Miss Austen. I am including two short passages centered around one of my favorite Austen characters, the always-witty and loving father Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

The first passage comes after Lizzy has turned down Mr. Collins's proposal. Lizzy's mother is furious her daughter would do such a thing, but then as he always so awesomely does, Mr. Bennet sets everything straight:

Mrs. Bennet rang the bell, and Miss Elizabeth was summoned to the library.

"Come here, child," cried her father as she appeared. "I have sent for you on an affair of importance. I understand that Mr. Collins has made you an offer of marriage? Is it true?" Elizabeth replied that it was. "Very well - and this offer of marriage you have refused?"

"I have, Sir."

"Very well. We now come to the point. Your mother insists upon your accepting it. Is not it so, Mrs. Bennet?"

"Yes, or I will never see her again."

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. --Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

This second passage comes towards the end of the book, after Mr. Bennet has given his blessing to Lizzy to marry Mr. Darcy. This piece of dialogue always cracks me up. For those of you who've read the book, or at least seen the wonderful BBC mini series with Colin Firth as Darcy, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

Elizabeth had the satisfaction of seeing her father take pains to get acquainted with him [Mr. Darcy]; and Mr. Bennet soon assured her that he was rising every hour in his esteem.

"I admire all my three sons-in-law highly," said he. "Wickham, perhaps, is my favourite; but I think I shall like your husband quite as well as Jane's."

Happy Belated Birthday, Jane!